WHISPERING SMITH: Do I detect yet another hobby bug set to bite?

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MY children gently tease me about having a ‘garage full of hobbies’.

Golf, archery, angling, gardening, tennis, bird watching, photography, oil painting, cycling, stringed instruments and brimmed hats are among them, most of which now, whole or in part, have taken up residence in my garage.

Well, kids, thanks to The Detectorists, a BBC 4 sitcom I consider to be the best thing on television since Dad’s Army, you can add a new one to the long list, metal detecting.

Didn’t jump straight into this one, though. My usual initial burst of enthusiasm results in my rushing to the shops to kit myself out in a ‘pay now, regret later’ mode. No, this time I consulted wisely – the passing years I guess, and the fact that the garage is getting a little crowded.

First, I sought out Littlehampton’s master collector, Tyndall Jones. Whether it is with charity coin box or metal detector, Tyndall is the one who brings home the bacon, so to speak. He kindly offered to loan me his spare machine to see if I was ’suited’ to the hobby and then gave me an hour’s worth of sound advice.

I declined the first, on the grounds that I would probably lose it or, at best, break it, but I did take his advice and headed out to Fontwell to track down Detecniks, a shop that specialises in the hobby.

More sound advice from the proprietor, and I stress it was advice and not a sales pitch. My overflowing garage attests to the fact that I have had to learn to differentiate between the two ,which was not a skill I possessed in my early hobbyist days.

So, big coil heads or little coil heads, a veritable computer on a pole or a ‘switch it on and go’ machine to keep the novice happy? Anything from a couple of hundred quid to a couple of thousand and beyond. Wary of the stick I might get from said kids if I tired of detecting, I settled for a popular machine capable of finding things if they were there and was also light and easy on the arm and pocket.

So, two hundred quid poorer, but with a machine that works, a little spade, headphones and bag for my sandwiches and finds, I am now a ‘detectorist’ third class, with low expectations but high and mighty aspirations…